Robot Stories

Ostensibly about artificial life forms, each of these four short, expertly crafted stories offers a poignant perspective on what it means to be human. In the first, "My Robot Baby," Marcia (Tamlyn Tomita) inherits a legacy of poor parenting from her mother, a deeply unhappy woman who once advised her 6-year-old daughter never to have kids. Now a tyrannical...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Ostensibly about artificial life forms, each of these four short, expertly crafted stories offers a poignant perspective on what it means to be human. In the first, "My Robot Baby," Marcia (Tamlyn Tomita) inherits a legacy of poor parenting from her mother, a deeply unhappy woman who once advised her 6-year-old daughter never to have kids. Now a tyrannical ad executive, Marcia and her mild-mannered husband, Roy (Tanisha Eanes), are about to adopt a child of their own. But first they're given a pink, egg-shaped robot "baby" which will record their parenting skills; after 30 days, all the nurturing data collected by the robot will be used by the adoption agency to determine whether Roy and Marcia will make suitable parents. Alone with her robot baby after Roy flies to Tokyo on business, Marcia realizes just how much like her mother she's become. In "The Robot Fixer," Bernice (Wai Ching Ho) attempts to rouse her comatose son, Wilson (Louis Ozawa Changchien), by reassembling his childhood collection of "Microbots," snap-together action figures that were once only thing Wilson cared about. As Bernice scours garage sales and hobby shops for missing pieces and parts, it becomes clear that Bernice is really distracting herself from the real issue at hand: pulling the plug on Wilson's artificial life-support system. In "Machine Love," Archie (the films' director, Greg Pak) is the latest in robotic office mates designed to tailor their behavior according to interactions with coworkers. Most are cruel and derisive, but Archie exhibits a "more-human-than-human" sensitivity and overcomes his programming to rescue a female robot (Julienne Hanzekla Kim) who's being sexually abused by her office mates. In the final robot story, "Clay," celebrated sculptor John Lee (Sab Shimono) is pressured by his son (Ron Domingo) to have his consciousness scanned and uploaded onto a global network where he'll live forever with countless others, including John's wife, Helen (Elsa Davis). John resists joining this artificial paradise, but he's having trouble translating his latest vision for an important commission into clay, and time is running out: He'll be dead within a year. Following in the footsteps of Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling and Philip K. Dick rather than George Lucas, Pak returns to the tradition of intelligent, humanistic sci-fi and reminds us of the value of good genre fiction. Like Eric Byler's excellent CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES, the film also marks an interesting shift in Asian-American filmmaking into broader subject matter. Ethnicity isn't ignored, but it's ultimately beside the point.

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  • Released: 2004
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Ostensibly about artificial life forms, each of these four short, expertly crafted stories offers a poignant perspective on what it means to be human. In the first, "My Robot Baby," Marcia (Tamlyn Tomita) inherits a legacy of poor parenting from her mother… (more)

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